Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Terrible Tale of the Threes


Two weeks ago, BYU was better than more than 330 of the 345 Division 1 basketball teams in 3 point shooting. Over their first 20 games, BYU was making a very respectable 39.8% of their 3-point attempts. Then something happened. Something terrible. Something so unprobable that it led to the following use of oversized tables and graphs.

Over its last 4 games, BYU has only made 11 of 73 three point attempts, a mere 15.0%. Jimmer Fredette, over his last 4 games has made 11 of 17 NBA-length 3 point attempts; 56 fewer attempts than BYU, but the same number of makes.

Can this slump be blamed on the level of competition? Yes, and no. Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, Virginia Tech and St. Mary’s rank 15th, 155th, 3rd and 246th respectively in 3 point percentage defense. That’s an average of 105th.

To try to get a rough feel for how unlikely the magnitude of this shooting slump is, let’s look at the math of the coin flip. In calculating the odds of getting a certain number of heads, an assumption is made that it doesn’t matter what has happened in the past as far as what will happen in the future. Now, intuition would have you believe that in the real world, it DOES matter how you have shot in the recent past when determining how likely you will make your next shot. In other words, if a team is hot, they will be more likely to make a shot than average and vice versa. However, statistical research into this very topic (feel free to Google a bit) has failed to substantiate that intuition.

So let’s assume that we have a coin that comes up heads 40% of the time; consistent with BYU’s 3 point accuracy for their first 20 games. If you flipped that lop-sided coin 73 times, how often would you expect to get heads 11 times or less? Well, I simulated this very thing 500,000 times in Excel. In only TWO simulations did Excel produce a result where there were 11 “heads” or less.

Take a look at the raw data and then the bar chart below.  I had to stretch the graph in Excel to be 350 rows high before I could even see the pixel representing BYU’s 11 for 73 likelihood.  Using this approximation, the odds against this severe of a slump is 250,000 to 1.  In reality the odds are most likely not anywhere that extreme, but even if you generously account for an increase in the level of competition and the psychological effects of being in a slump, it’s still safe to say that the magnitude of this slump is still quite remarkable.

Makes Frequency
1 0
2 0
3 0
4 0
5 0
6 0
7 0
8 0
9 1
10 0
11 1
12 7
13 15
14 52
15 122
16 329
17 660
18 1288
19 2533
20 4587
21 7715
22 11815
23 17362
24 23454
25 30451
26 37444
27 42789
28 46518
29 47320
30 45937
31 42273
32 36334
33 30068
34 23233
35 16976
36 11843
37 7892
38 4854
39 2910
40 1576
41 824
42 413
43 233
44 98
45 43
46 16
47 8
48 3
49 3
50 0
51 0
52 0
53 0
54 0
55 0
56 0
57 0
58 0
59 0
60 0
61 0
62 0
63 0
64 0
65 0
66 0
67 0
68 0
69 0
70 0
71 0
72 0
73 0

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CougarStats 2000s all-decade team: Wide Receivers


Last week’s Tight Ends poll was much less dramatic than the previous week’s QB voting. Dennis Pitta ran away with it while Jonny Harline was a distant second.

This week we move on to wide receivers. If we were only allowed one vote, we might have a similar result. But we’re choosing two: Matt Allen,  Toby Christensen, Austin Collie, Reno Mahe, Michael Reed, and Todd Watkins are the nominees.

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CougarStats 2000s all-decade team: Tight Ends


Last week’s poll was exciting. With 324 votes cast, John Beck won the CougarStats QB of the decade over Max Hall by a mere 7 votes.

Now for the tight ends. We’re going to give 6 options. You can decided what your voting criteria is. Is it Harline for beating the Utes on his knees, George for splitting the gap in OT, Pitta, BYU’s all-time receiving leader, Doug Jolley for his role in BYU’s great 2001 season?

Choose on, the poll will be open for one week.

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CougarStats 2000s all-decade team: Quarterbacks


The results are in for the first round of the CougarStats all-decade team for the 2000s. Luke Staley and Harvey Unga mad the team with 198 and 164 votes. Curtis Brown came in a distant third with 43 votes. Fui Vakapuna also ran.

This week it’s quarterbacks. Three nominees. Vote for one. John Beck, Brandon Doman and Max Hall. The poll will remain open for one week.

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BYU: The Most Clutch Team in America


Beginning with Beck-to-Harline, BYU has been the most clutch team in America. BYU has been an amazing 18-2 in games decided by 7 points or less since that moment.

Rank Team Wins Losses Win%
1 BYU 18 2 0.900
2 Wyoming 17 4 0.810
3 Utah 15 5 0.750
4 Cincinnati 15 5 0.750
5 East Carolina 22 9 0.710
6 LSU 17 7 0.708
7 Northwestern 21 9 0.700
8 Oregon St. 16 7 0.696
9 Hawaii 14 7 0.667
10 Syracuse 12 6 0.667
11 Oklahoma St. 12 6 0.667
12 Texas Tech 13 7 0.650
13 Rice 13 7 0.650
14 Kansas St. 13 7 0.650
15 Texas 11 6 0.647
16 Auburn 18 10 0.643
17 Boise St. 7 4 0.636
18 La.-Lafayette 12 7 0.632
19 Miami (OH) 15 9 0.625
20 Penn St. 10 6 0.625

Here are how some of these games have ended:

11/25/2006 – Beck-to-Harline TD pass for 33-31 win as game ended.

11/8/2007 – Dalton sacked twice to prevent game-winning drive in a 27-22 win

11/24/2007 – Hall-to-Collie on 4th and 18th capped off by Unga steamrolling into the end zone with 56 seconds remaining for 17-10 win

12/22/2007 – Eathyn Manumaleuna blocks UCLA’s 28 yard FG attempt on the last play of the game to preserve a 17-16 bowl victory.

9/6/2008 – Jan Jorgensen blocks Washington’s PAT attempt that would have sent the game into overtime, but instead gives BYU a 28-27 victory

10/25/2008 – Dennis Pitta hauls in a Max Hall pass with 1:46 left to put BYU ahead 42-35 against UNLV. Andrew Rich intercepts Omar Clayton’s pass in the end zone on the last play of the game to thwart a comeback.

11/1/2008 – Dennis Pitta scores with 22 seconds left as BYU rallies for a 45-42 win at Colorado State.

9/5/2009 – McKay Jacobsen catches a pass in the back of the end zone to put BYU up 14-13 against #3 Oklahoma. Oklahoma is misses a 55 yard FG as time expires.

11/28/2009 – Andrew George splits two defenders in OT and rumbles for a 25 yard TD in a 26-23 win over Utah.

9/3/2011 – Kyle Van Noy sacks the Ole Miss QB on 3rd and 27, forcing a fumble and then recovering it for a game winning TD in a 14-13 victory.

9/30/2011 – Riley Nelson, in relief of starter Jake Heaps, drives BYU an amazing 98 yards in two minutes and pinballs the game-winning pass to Marcus Matthews with 11 seconds left to beat Utah State 27-24

12/30/2011 – Riley Nelson decides winning another game with 11 seconds left is a good idea as he fake spikes the ball and catches Tulsa asleep as he throws the game winning pass to Cody Hoffman in a 24-21 bowl victory.

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2000s All-Decade Team voting: Running Backs


Now that the football season is over, we’re going to try something new . This is your chance to help choose the CougarStats all-decade BYU football team.

Vote for the CougarStats.com all-decade team for 2000-2009. We’ll start out with running backs and in one week we’ll move on to another position until we have a full line-up. Nominees are selected based on stats, all-conference selections or because I just felt like it. Write-in votes accepted as comments to this blog post.

Later, we’ll select all-decade teams for the 90s, 80s and so on. Players who crossed over two decades can only be selected once. So, if Owen Pochman, for example, is not selected as the kicker of the decade for the 200s, he will be on the ballot for the 90s. If he wins for the 200s, then he will be kept off of the ballot for the 90s.

Here are the running back nominees. Pick 2. Curtis Brown, JJ DiLuigi, Luke Staley, Harvey Unga and Fui Vakapuna.

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